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Colorado Springs A Good Place?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
This isnt neccesarily skiing related but I figured some in ehre would be able to offer up some info.

I am looking to relocate to CO for retirement. Not neccesarily for skiing but I just enjoy the state. I am considering Colorado Springs as the housing market seems quite affordable compared to some other areas of CO. I also enjoy the Pikes Peak area.

That being said some things I have read about the town and some things that have been told to me give me a little cause for concern. A former colleague and Air Force buddy told me to stay away from there as in his words it is becoming home to every "right wing religious nut" in the nation. I know that assesment sounds pretty extreme but he was adament about it saying the people are exceedingly conservative and not at all tolerant of anyone who doesnt fit into the far rigth wing mold. He basically said Colorado Springs makes Salt Lake City look like a Liberal hangout in comparison.

I find this possibly a bit of an exhageration as I have been through CO Springs before and it seemed OK. Granted I didnt stay but a night or two but I senses people minded their own business in general. Has anyone here lived there or have any first hand info on CO Springs from a people perspective? Is it really that bad?

btw...I am a moderate and not passing judgements. I just don't want to get stuck surrounded by extremists if this really is the case.
post #2 of 14
Paul, my brother lives in Colorado Springs and if anything, he is quite liberal. He has no problems with it. I have been there numerous times and think it's a great town. Like anyplace, there's all kinds of people. Certainly, there are a bunch of people who love the outdoors. Also, it's way prettier than Denver. If you like, private e-mail me and I'll put you in touch with my brother who could give you a more detailed opinion.
post #3 of 14
Paul I Know very little about Colorado Springs just wanted to pass on that there are some pockets of liberal thought in the shadow of the Temple. Don't forget we even have a Democrat congressmen Jim Mathison. Now back to your thread
post #4 of 14

Nice place to visit...

Originally Posted by PaulR View Post
it is becoming home to every "right wing religious nut" in the nation. I know that assesment sounds pretty extreme but he was adament about it saying the people are exceedingly conservative and not at all tolerant of anyone who doesnt fit into the far rigth wing mold. He basically said Colorado Springs makes Salt Lake City look like a Liberal hangout in comparison.
To folks in Denver, the Springs does have a reputation consistent with what you have been told. The Springs is home to many religious organizations with adgendas.

I live in Denver, however, I work between Denver and CO Springs with about 10 folks that live in the Springs. The folks that I work with all fit the hardcore religious mold...active in their churches, very conservative, don't seem to question a lot, intolerant of other views, etc. They also seem to follow the republican party like it's a religion. Makes for a very uncomfortable work environment since I don't share these views and they are very keen to share theirs (I keep my mouth shut). Is it as hardcore as Salt Lake City? Probably about the same or slightly less. Just my .02 cents.
post #5 of 14
I've spent a fair amount of time there on business and know a number of people that live there. I even considered moving there, but there just isn't enough of my type of work there. I find it to be a nice place and not as bad as it's made out to be. Hey, there's lots of good bars downtown, so it can't be all bad. I believe COS is the home of the Born Again Christians. It's a very reasonable drive into Breckenridge from the back, has amazing biking, cheap housing (I live around DC, so COS is incredibly cheap) and the people I've met, mostly coworkers, are very nice and religion never once came up in conversation.
post #6 of 14
My suggestion for retirement is Loveland or Fort Collins, there is only a couple of miles between them. Consistently rated around No. 1 for places to retire. Combined population of around 150k (CS is around 400k). takes about one hour to Denver, Eldora is the closest skiing (around 1-1/2 hrs depending on snow conditions - especially if you use the county roads to get there). Winter Park is 3 hours away (I commuted there 5 days a week last season).

Colorado Springs is the home base for Focus on the Family and Promise Keepers. The [i]ultra[-/I]conservatism permeates the politics in the springs. In addition, it is home to an Air Force Base and Ft. Carson (whose soldiers are constantly being redeployed to Iraq). It is also home to the Air Force Academy.

Larimer County (Ft. Collins and Loveland) is also pretty conservative, but it doesn't seem to override all other concerns in politics, the way it does in the springs.
post #7 of 14
It is also in the shadow of Cheyenne Mt (NORAD) so you can be assured of a quick death during a full scale nuclear war.
post #8 of 14
Originally Posted by tief schnee View Post
It is also in the shadow of Cheyenne Mt (NORAD) so you can be assured of a quick death during a full scale nuclear war.
I heard NORAD is shutting down the Cheyenne Mt. facility. Then again, it will likely get nuked just for good measure.

post #9 of 14


If you are worried about right wing religous nuts, you should move to Boulder. Bernie Sanders would be considered a right wing nut there.
post #10 of 14

The Springs is a great town!

I do live in Colo Spgs about half of each year. And is is just like any other town of 400K....

Yes, it is true that Colo Spgs is the headquarters of more religious organizations than any other city in the US, giving it the title of the "Capital of the Bible Belt". But many of those org's are international radio and tv ministries. Yes, you will find some HUGE churches in the area too. Yes, it is relatively conservative in it's politics. But who cares?

I am not a religious zealot, and I get along fine. Just because there is a large military presence (Ft Carson, Petersen AFB, Shriever AFB, NORAD, and the USAFA), representing about 25 % of the population, it does not influence the local standard of living any more than any large employer would in a mid-size town.

The weather is stable, quite predictable, and the town does have all 4 seasons. It is close to the mtns, has great cultural activities (opera, symphony, museums, etc), and all the other benefits of a fairly large town.

It is only about an hr (outside of rush hr) away from Denver, but if an airport is needed, the KCOS is a great place to fly in and out of... Sometimes, it is even cheaper than flying out of DIA! No parking hassles, no trains to concourses, etc... Very simple, yet sophisticated.

Like any large town/ small city, there are various price points to living in different parts of the city. What probably has the greatest influence are the quality of the various school districts. But as you are talking about retirement, I would guess your kids (if any) are already out of school.

I would strongly encourage you to visit the area, during various times of the year, to get a real feel for it.

I know several have suggested Ft Collins or Loveland (nice towns), but they are seriously flat, further from the mtns, and you might take a little while to adjust to the collection of agricultural odors which seem to hang around them. After all, that area is still dominated by agriculture.

Good luck in your decision.
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by JohnH View Post
It's a very reasonable drive into Breckenridge from the back,
post #12 of 14
As a percentage of population more people attend church regularly in Denver than in Colorado Springs. In fact, taken as a percentage, more people regularly attend church in almost every major city in the nation than do in Colorado Springs. Yes there are big churches. Yes there are "ultra" conservative christian organizations. (My suspicion is that the pre-eminence of those types of organization and churches actually increases the non-church going proclivity of certain segments of the population.) In the end though, I know gay, black, lesbian, hispanic, catholic, atheist, wiccan, etc people who have lived here for years without "feeling smothered by the right wing nut jobs."

The Pikes Peak region includes over half a million people, you get everything. On the north end of town you have focus on the family, new life church (probably the definition of "mega church") - on the west end, you have Manitou - where an evening stroll on any given summer evening will bring to your nostrils the scent of various substances being smoked for recreation. I haven't seen a "street preacher" downtown in nearly 20 years, but I regularly see groups of South American immigrants performing Brazillian fight dancing on the wide sections of sidewalk downtown on weekend evenings (it's pretty neat to watch & you can hear the drums for blocks). If you're close to the bases, you'll see a few military uniforms, but the days of walking downtown and seeing every 10th person in uniform are long gone. It's incorrect that 25% of the town is "military." 25% of the employment is "military related," but that just means that there are a lot of defense contractors in the city; their employees are civilians, not soldiers, sailors, marines or airmen. There is a large hispanic population, and a large minority speaks spanish - you will see billboards in spanish. There are hippie liberals here, there are members of the "religious right."

Basically, if you never leave suburbia, shop at the box stores, eat at the chain restaurants, go the chain movie theaters, you'll likely dislike the "atmosphere" of the town. If you make a lifestyle choice to hike, bike, climb, fish, seek out the small mom & pop restaurants, go to the art shows, see the theater productions, etc - your experience will be much different (and you'll interact with a much different crowd), and you'll likely enjoy your time here. It's a pretty diverse city. Like all diverse cities, if you're looking for a reason to get offended, you will be offended - if you're the type who blames your own unhappiness on your environment, you won't like the environment. Also, be wary of folks who extrapolate from a small sample (<20 people) to an entire population.

A negative aspect: Colorado Springs is a very difficult town to "get to know." I worked with a lady who had lived in the Springs for over 5 years - one day she was complaining about how long it took her to get to work. Something seemed wrong with how long it was taking her, and I asked where she lived. I spent 2 minutes giving her different directions, and the next morning she thanked me for cutting 10-12 minutes off of her commute.

That's not an isolated example. You have no idea how many people who I've had in my car driving somewhere, people who have lived here 5, 10, even 15 years, that have said to me "I didn't know you could go this way to get there!" The city was planned when Palmer founded it, then he died and no one has had a plan since.

As far as access to the mountains goes, it's six of one, a half dozen of the other when it comes to comparing the Springs to Denver. Comparing to Ft Collins or Loveland, it's not even close. With the lone exception of Steamboat, I would much rather drive from Colorado Springs to any ski area in the state than from Loveland or even worse from Ft Collins. For hilking & mountain biking, there are several trailheads heading into the national forest that leave from inside the city limits - something no other city on the front range has. Denver & Colorado Springs are about equidistant from gold-medal water fishing - again, Loveland, Ft Collins - not even close. Denver has better access to climbing a quantity of 14'ers than does the Springs (though the springs has Pike's Peak right here).

Real estate market, Colorado Springs is still increasing in value - Ft Collins and Loveland have declined for three straight quarters (and were flat prior to then). Colorado Springs has NOT seen the exponential growth in real estate values that other areas (both in and out of the state) have seen. While "bubbles" have been forming in other markets with 20 - 30% growth rates, the Springs has been plugging along at 5 - 6% a year pretty consistently.

All in all, it's a nice place to live & play. The key is probably finding the right area of town to live in. General rule: with the two exceptions of the downtown and the "old north end" - if you're east of I-25, you're in Kansas, and all the negative stereotypes of suburbia likely apply. Areas where those stereotypes fail: downtown, old north end, the west side, broadmoor area, cheyenne canyon, Manitou, Old Colorado City, and anything up Ute Pass into and a beyond Woodland Park.

Visit several times, try to get to know the area (pm me, and I can give you some suggested places to meander through) - and decide for yourself.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you all very much for the well thought out replies. I figured if anyone would know about Colorado it would be folks on EpicSki.

Thanks Vail and Jake for the fine details. Regarding my Air Force Buddy I think something rankled his feathers something fierce when he was stationed there a while back. Then again he was never a serious outdoorsmen , he didnt like to ski or hike etc..so he probably never got to appreciate the environment and stayed within the city. I just remember him telling me he couldnt get out of there fast enough when he retired from the AF in 2002. He moved back to Boston his home town. I think this is in line with your comments Jake about disliking the atmosphere if you just stay near suburbia.

I was there in June and was intirigued by the nature of the surrounding landscape itself.
post #14 of 14
You may also want check out the western slope. Grand Junction/Fruita, Paonia and Glenwood are all nice areas.
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